Approximately every four years, the cryptocurrency market undergoes a bullish cycle. In 2021, however, things are a bit different. While previous bullish markets could be linked to just a couple of events, a wide variety of factors have contributed to this price increase this time around.
Institutional interest in Bitcoin, the rise of DeFi, and skyrocketing meme coins are just a few that are worth mentioning. One major catalyst is the explosion of the NFT ecosystem and the digital collectibles market. NFT marketplaces have recorded volumes of $10.7 billion in Q3 2021 alone, which proves the success of this cryptocurrency niche.
In this article, we will briefly talk about the basics of NFTs and their benefits. We will take a closer look at some successful NFTs and provide a list of the best NFT marketplaces where you can trade these digital collectibles. This should be of great help if you are starting out in this niche and looking for reliable platforms to make some profits with these assets.
A short introduction to NFTs
NFT stands for non-fungible tokens, which are unique digital assets recorded on the blockchain and can be used to represent anything of value. The non-fungible part of their name comes from the fact that they cannot be interchanged for one another, unlike cryptocurrencies like ETH or BTC. This means that they cannot be sold on traditional cryptocurrency exchanges, but are instead traded on specific NFT marketplaces.
That said, they inherit some of the incredible benefits of blockchain technology, including:
- Uniqueness – no NFT is like any other, and each one has a unique set of properties to help us differentiate them from one another. Moreover, NFTs cannot be duplicated or copied.
- Proof of ownership – powered by blockchain cryptography, only the owner of the keys can access and transfer NFTs.
- Traceability and proof of origin – the blockchain records allow us to trace back the NFT journey through history and know exactly where they come from.
- Durability – like cryptocurrencies, NFTs cannot be destroyed by a third party or damaged in any way.
- Transferability – and last but not least, NFTs are easily transferable from one user to another. Compared to traditional art, this is a huge advantage, as artists can gain exposure to a wide public almost instantly.
The success of NFTs as digital art and gaming tokens
We can use NFTs in various industries to track data, communicate with the IoT ecosystem, or generally improve operational processes. That said, two major use cases currently prevail in the NFT ecosystem: digital art and gaming tokens.
Almost anyone interested in crypto has encountered news about crypto art selling for millions of dollars. Christie’s sold a collection of digital artworks from Beeple, one of the most famous digital artists at the moment, for $69 million (nice!). On the other hand, the CryptoPunks NFT avatars have been selling for record-breaking prices. The most expensive one reached an eye-watering $11 million.
And who hasn’t heard about Axie Infinity, the blockchain game that allows players to earn a decent income through their gaming hobby? In this game, players can earn NFT game items and crypto tokens as rewards just by playing. The amounts of these rewards can sometimes rival well-paid jobs in less fortunate countries.
The incredible success of these valuable digital items has attracted a large number of mainstream investors to the crypto space. As such, NFTs are actively contributing to the adoption of blockchain technology and are bringing Bitcoin and Ethereum into the pockets of the average Joe.
Making money with the best NFT marketplaces
By now, you must be wondering how you can start making money with NFTs. Well, while it might seem complicated on the surface but it’s actually easier than it looks. Just like trading cryptocurrencies, you will need to follow the market closely.
Pick a few artists or up-and-coming collections, and keep track to determine when it’s the right time to buy. To make things easier, you can consult our article that deals with the topic of how the price of an NFT is determined.
In essence, there are three major ways to make money with NFTs:
- Flipping NFTs – which means buying them for a low fixed price, waiting for their value to rise, and reselling them.
- Primary sales – by becoming an artist, creating valuable NFTs, and selling them.
- Secondary sales – by receiving royalties from secondary sales. Remember how we said NFts are easily traceable? Well, every time an NFT changes hands, the original artist will automatically receive a royalty fee, in case the marketplace provides this functionality.
What do you need to access the best NFT marketplaces?
Before you are able to buy or sell NFTs on one of the best NFT marketplaces we selected in this article, you will need to take care of some prerequisites:
- Create an NFT-capable digital wallet – Because most of the NFT ecosystem resides on the Ethereum blockchain, you should start by downloading and creating a wallet such as Metamask. This should allow you to store both ETH and your ERC-721 tokens and make communication and transactions with NFT marketplaces considerably easier.
- Fund your wallet with some ETH – Every transaction with an NFT marketplace requires some gas fees, which are usually paid in ETH. Metamask allows you to buy ETH with a credit card directly from the wallet interface. You will also need some ETH when minting or buying NFTs, so it’s always a good idea to have your wallet topped off.
- Create an account on your preferred NFT marketplace – Finally, register an account with the best NFT marketplace of your choice. You will usually need to link your previously created NFT wallet during this procedure.
Note: Ensure that the wallet you have chosen is compatible with the marketplace where you wish to trade NFTs. For instance, if the base blockchain is Ethereum, Metamask will do the trick. On the other hand, if the marketplace is on Solana or the Binance Smart Chain, make sure you use a compatible wallet with these networks, such as Trustwallet.
Top NFT marketplaces
Below are some of the best NFT marketplaces where you can purchase digital trading cards, gaming items, NFT art, and other digital valuables.
Network: Ethereum, Polygon, Klaytn.
Types of NFT: Art, collectibles, gaming items.
OpenSea is, by far, the most popular NFT marketplace on the planet, and with a good reason. It’s a pioneer in this niche and you will be able to find almost every type of digital item imaginable on this platform.
What’s more, is that OpenSea provides support for dozens of different wallets and increases the user experience with a clean and practical UI. Even minting NFTs is quite easy when using the exchange’s interface, which is ideal for beginners.
And finally, one great advantage is that OpenSea has been slowly integrating other blockchains than the Ethereum network. Consequently, you can use the Polygon Layer 2 solution to avoid high gas fees, or the Klaytn network to ensure eco-friendly NFT minting.
Types of NFT: Art, collectibles, gaming items
Rarible is one of the largest NFT marketplaces that fosters some extremely popular digital artists such as Beeple. You can also find game-related items such as Axies or some Decentraland virtual world real estate. An interesting addition to SuperRare is its partnership with cocoNFT. This third-party software allows you to mint any Instagram post into an NFT and lists it directly on the marketplace.
An important element of the rarible ecosystem is the RARI cryptocurrency. This is the governance token of the platform that is used to incentivize content creators and network participants. This token has been listed on major exchanges including Binance, Coinbase, and Kraken, offering additional profit opportunities for artists and Rarible users.
Types of NFT: Art.
Unlike OpenSea and Rarible, SuperRare doesn’t offer a wide variety of NFT types but makes our list of best NFT marketplaces for its exclusivity. This platform chooses to solely focus on crypto-art and directly collaborates and communicates with the artists. The content on SuperRare is meticulously curated and creating an NFT needs to pass through an approval process.
This process is ensured through the RARE governance token, which empowers users to directly have a say on which artworks the platform can add to its listing.
Network: Ethereum, Enjin.
Types of NFT: Collectibles, gaming items.
EnjinX is the NFT marketplace of the Enjin ecosystem, the first gaming-oriented blockchain. Enjin introduced the ERC-1155 token protocol, which allows developers to mint fungible and non-fungible tokens through the same smart contract. This is extremely useful in games, as the currency doesn’t need to be a separate ERC-20 token.
This is the only marketplace that offers NFTs created for Enjin-based games and requires that you install the Enjin wallet to handle the ERC-1155 tokens native to its network.
Network: Bitcoin, Stacks
Types of NFT: Art, collectibles.
Stacks is a layer 2 solution that brings smart contracts to Bitcoin. It allows NFTs to be created off-chain and confirmed on the Bitcoin network. Consequently, NFTs on Stacks benefit from the popularity and security of the highly decentralized Bitcoin blockchain.
StacksArt is a by-product of Stacks and fosters Bitcoin-secured NFTs. While there’s not much variety and choice just yet, it’s a great solution for those that wish to continue to support Bitcoin instead of other cryptocurrencies. To mint NFTs, users need to acquire some STX tokens and use a compatible wallet that can be found here.
Network: Bitcoin, Stacks
Types of NFT: Art, collectibles.
Nifty Gateway is one of the biggest NFT platforms available and is owned by the popular cryptocurrency exchange Gemini. What’s great about this exchange is that you can buy NFTs directly with your credit card, in addition to Ethereum.
Moreover, you can link your Nifty account with your Gemini wallet. This will allow you to buy NFTs with the assets that are in your exchange wallet. Also, when you sell your own NFTs, the funds will be automatically added to your Gemini wallet. You can then either withdraw it in fiat or use it to trade on the exchange.
Types of NFT: Art
KnownOrigin is a digital art marketplace first and foremost. Similar to SuperRare, the platform focuses on providing artists and collectors a place to buy and sell a smaller selection of curated digital art pieces.
This NFT market feels more like a high-art gallery than most of the other online marketplaces on our list. It’s aimed at more serious art collectors that aren’t too keen on buying the latest trending NFT.
Types of NFT: Collectibles.
On NBA Top Shot, basketball fans can trade their favorite NBA star moments in the form of short videos. On the homepage, you can buy digital cards that contain some of the historical highlights of current and past NBA stars.
It’s one of the rare marketplaces that is aimed directly at the mainstream public with no cryptocurrency knowledge whatsoever. Consequently, the signup procedure is a bit different than with other platforms.
Worth noting is that the platform is the result of a direct partnership between the NBA and blockchain company Dapper Labs. This is the company that created Cryptokitties, the first NFT collectible game that encountered incredible success way back in 2017 and caused the Ethereum network to almost grind to a halt.
Types of NFT: Art, collectibles.
Solana is a top 10 smart contract blockchain that has seen incredible growth in the past year. It’s considered to be one of the fastest Layer 1 solutions out there, that scales extremely well with mass usage. This ecosystem offers much lower gas fees for NFTs, and thus can be quite appealing to artists that don’t have hundreds of dollars to mint their digital art.
Solanart is the first NFT marketplace on Solana. This can play directly in its favor when the NFT ecosystem on this blockchain inevitably grows.
Types of NFT: Art
Makersplace is another premier NFT art gallery that offers pieces from renowned artists like Hackatao, Fewocious, and many more. Instead of offering huge collections, this platform prefers to focus on quality instead of quantity.
Many celebrities have minted NFTs on this platform, including some worldwide stars like Shakira or Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. All in all, Makersplace is a great platform to find upcoming NFT gems and resell them for a higher price elsewhere.
Hopefully, this article gave you some pointers on which are the best NFT marketplaces available at the moment. While our list isn’t exclusive, the NFT platforms we listed above are all reliable, safe, and easy to use. They will grant you access to thousands of different digital collectibles to choose from.
And who knows, you might be able to find the next million-dollar NFT gem there. Happy NFT hunting!
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